In Thursday’s Committee of the Whole meeting, council voted 8-1 in favour of the public washroom accessibility assessment.
The plan calls on staff to work on doing work to improve public washroom accessibility in the city over the next seven years with a projected budget between $13 to 14-million.
The motion proposed two timelines, one to be complete over seven years, which staff recommended, or over four years.
The motion proposed two timelines. One would take seven years and the other only four.
Staff did not recommend the four-year timeline as relocating that many resources in such a short amount of time would cause delays across other projects.
Coun. Chris Coleman was the only vote against the seven-year plan, saying he’d rather see the project be completed on a shorter timeline.
“I think this is a priority. I think I will be voting against the motion because I would like to speed it up,” Coleman said in the Jan. 19 COTW meeting. “I am very aware that that puts some other projects at risk because we won’t have the financial capacity to do it. But this is about including all the citizens and giving them access.”
Coun. Matt Dell noted that while the washrooms are also a priority, there are many other accessibility projects the city needs to fund at the same time.
“Whether it be our rec center, our libraries, our streets, our sidewalks, there’s so many dollars that we need to put into accessibility that I think putting it all into this would take away from accessibility in our rec centres and whatnot,” Dell said. “But I just want to reiterate to the public and everyone around the table here that this needs to be a big priority for us and I think this is a step in the right direction.”
If approved by council, staff would begin design work to update the washrooms for 2023. Between 2024 to 2029 the projects would be put forward as items in the financial plan, to be completed by 2030.
In November 2022, architectural consultant HMCA published a 23-page audit on the city of Victoria’s public washroom accessibility.
The report found that of the 18 park washrooms identified in the city, “15 out of the 18 park washrooms assessed were rated 1 or 2 and require extensive to moderate upgrades to meet accessibility criteria.”